PROTESTERS FROM various farmer unions clashed in Sangrur with Moga police Sunday afternoon while agitating against the visit of Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma Sunday.
The BJP president had come to attend a party workers’ meeting at the residence of Sangrur district president Randip Deol. Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) protesters clashed with police who had put up a double barricading on the Sangrur-Patiala bypass ahead of Deol’s house.
A KKU protester, Gurpreet Singh (18) of Bahadarpur village, tried to break the barricades using a tractor, when cops were giving way to Sharma and his convoy. It was at this time that the clash happened. Gurpreet sustained minor injuries and was admitted in Sangrur Civil Hospital while a few others from KKU sustained minor injuries when police allegedly used force to disperse the crowd. Three policemen also sustained minor injuries in this scuffle.
Members of KKU alleged that police lathicharged them while letting Sharma enter Deol’s residence, while Sangrur police said three of their personnel were injured in the scuffle when Gurpreet tried to break a barricade using a tractor. Jasdeep Singh, convenor of KKU youth wing, Sangrur district, said, “We got to know of the visit, so we staged dharna near bypass road where police had done barricading. We were raising slogans and showing black flags to him only but our members got aggressive when cops tried to give away to BJP people by keeping us away from barricades. We then lodged a protest. Police used canes on us in which Gurpreet also got injured and he is admitted in hospital. Police are saying that their cops are also injured, but we did not see any of them in the hospital.”
Sangrur SSP Viveksheel Soni however said, “Gurpreet tried to break barricades with a tractor in which three of our cops sustained injuries. Despite that we took care of Gurpreet, gave him water and he felt sorry for his act as well. No cane was used on anyone, these are wrong allegations. KKU does not have much of a base in Sangrur, there are members of BKU Ugrahan, Sidhupur and Dakaunda. We spoke to them and all of them stated that they don’t resort to any violence but stick to peaceful protests.”
Meanwhile Ashwani Sharma attended the meeting at Deol’s residence for about an hour. “It was a workers’ meeting and was conducted properly. I am not aware of any protest and lathicharge incident,” said Deol.
Speaking to mediapersons, Sharma said, “It is a democratic country and if they have the right to protest, even we have the right to say our words. We should not be stopped from conducting any meeting…no farmer can resort to such sorts of protests. These are the miscreants supported by the ruling state government.”
Sharma had come to discuss the upcoming Nagar Council elections in Sangrur apart from other party issues. Though the Sangrur SSP said majority present were KKU protestors, KKU youth wing convenor Jasdeep Singh said members of BKU Ugrahan, BKU Rajewal and BKU Sidhupur were also there.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda and working member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination committee, condemned the “lathicharge”. “BJP leaders must understand public anger. They should support farmers in getting farm laws repealed but instead they are calling farmers names and intentionally creating incidents of clashes in the state. If we are stopped using methods like lathicharge or calling us names…we will not stop…rather it will further fuel our struggle.”
Jasdeep Singh added, “We will not allow any program of BJP to happen in our area. How can we allow these leaders to do false propaganda against us when every day one body of a farmer is coming from Delhi? And they are saying that we are having a picnic in Delhi…if they think so…they can also join us for this picnic for a day.”
The dharna was lifted later in the evening.
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